By Philippine News Agency
The 37th edition of the Strawberry Festival in this capital town formally opened on Friday.
In his speech during the opening program, Mayor Romeo Salda vowed to sustain the local government’s support to strawberry farmers by strictly implementing the town’s land use policy to ensure that the industry will be sustained in line with this year’s theme “La Trinidad Strawberries Forever.”
Salda expressed his gratitude to the local farmers for contributing to the town’s economy and their continuous support to the festival.
He however lamented the conversion of some areas of strawberry farm to residential and commercial.
He also thanked the different national government agencies for supporting the farming industry, it being the main source of livelihood of this capital town.
He also thanked the academe who shared their technical assistance in the preparation of the festival.
Salda also mentioned that the town continues to have a good strawberry harvest with the Japanese government’s assistance to the farmers in the form of agricultural scholarship, trainings and other programs to further improve the quality and the yield of the berry fruits.
“Through the Japanese farm technology, production of the strawberry is seen to be a year-round production,” the mayor said.
After the simple opening ceremony, Salda and Benguet Governor Cresencio Pacalso led other town officials in cutting the ceremonial ribbon and formally opened the “strawberry lane” inside the agro-tourism fair located infront of the town’s municipal building.
Numerous products made out of strawberry such as wine, cakes, “hopia”, jams, cookies among others were displayed and are for sale to the public.
In line with the monthlong festival, the organizing committee has lined-up 27 activities, spread out on the duration of the celebration.
Among them is the search for the biggest and sweetest strawberries on March 13.
La Trinidad, also known as the “rose garden of the country” where numerous ornamental plants and flowers are grown, is poised to bring together flower enthusiasts for the floral arrangement competition.
The strawberry wine fair is also set on March 20 where local wine processors will have the chance to showcase their produce.
On March 16, there will be a civic-military parade which will be followed by the Strawberry festival’s main program with Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary for Operations and Legislative Affairs Ana Maria Paz Rafael-Banaag will serve as the guest of honor and speaker.
Following the program, a traditional “owik” showcasing the culture of butchering animals as offering to the gods for good health, guidance and the good harvest will be done.
Following the butcher of black pigs, the “kikkan” will be observed where residents and guests will partake in it.
The much awaited street dancing, drum and lyre and float competition will be staged on March 17.
On March 10, the “duting tan dukto” was observed.
It is a practice amongst the locals to serve “camote” (sweet potato) with sweetened strawberry capped with a hot brewing coffee for everybody, a tradition to provide energy to the people.
A job fair and the “Run for Amity” and indigenous games will be held on Sunday, March 11.